Welfare for Science?

The United States just launched a 600 million dollar mission to look for planets similiar to Earth.  Does someone think that we can get to them?  Does finding them mean that we are not alone?  How will such esoteric knowledge benefit the public?  How small is 600 million compared to 750 billion?  Small enough that no will notice?

When we are looking at giving up our capability to put humans into space, with the retirement of the Space Shuttle, merely for budget reasons, what sense does it make to spend money on science?  Especially when we need to change the perception of Space from scientific research to expanding the sphere of human activities.  Very few people I talk with are aware that there are three people living in space right now, one of whom is a woman.

High technology companies have two primary markets:  military applications and aerospace.  Astrophysicists need new data to do original work.  Both are essential to America’s military strength, because the weapons of war have become so high-tech.  Keeping the scientists eating and the high-technology companies in business is now the province of NASA, which is also responsible to our manned space program.  Which we will not have in another year, or so, because the shuttle is going to be retired, and we have nothing to replace it with, except a concept.

600 million dollars, .6 billion dollars, is less than 1 percent of what we are spending to salvage our financial system.  If we had invested that into the space program, we would be in the middle of a real real estate boom, one on the Moon.  Finding Earth-like planets will do us no good if we can’t learn how to live on this one, and the secrets to living on Earth are going to be found off-Earth, in the resources of the Solar System.  Lots of cheap energy, all the hydrocarbons you can imagine, and land just waiting to be developed.

It is time is set Science aside of a little while, and focus on Survival.  Learning to do things where they won’t affect our only home is the key to having a high-technology lifestyle and a low carbon footprint.  Learning to live and work in space is the most important challenge the race faces, in my opinon, because our extinction is almost assured if we do not.

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